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Viljandi Folk Music Festival guides guests to reuse tableware

VIljandi Folk Music Festival is implementing a deposit tableware system and is encouraging guests to bring their own tableware to the festival. This is a step forwards from last year’s festival where single-use plastic tableware was replaced by compostable dishes. The long-term aim is to become a zero-waste festival.
Implementing a deposit tableware system means that food and drink are no longer served on single-use plastic dishes but on reusable deposit cups and plates instead. “The guest pays a deposit for using the deposit tableware when purchasing food or drink and they can get the money back if they take it back to the deposit tableware return tent,” explained the Head of Sustainability for the festival, Kirsika Meresmaa. Guests can rent plates and cups for 2 euros and wine glasses for 3 euros. There are two deposit tableware return tents on the festival area - one on the Vabaduse Square and the other near the Varese bridge near the Traditional Music Center.

Guests can also wash their dishes in designated dishwashing areas which means that they can reuse the same tableware throughout the entire festival. “We encourage guests to reuse the same tableware throughout the festival or at least on the festival day and refrain from returning the tableware after each purchase,” said Kirsika Meresmaa. The dishwashing area is located on the Laidoner monument side of the Traditional Music Center. Guests don’t need to wash their dishes before they return them to the deposit tableware return tent.

All guests are also welcome to bring their own tableware. Guests can bring a plate, bowl, cup, fork, knife and spoon with them. They can also bring their own water bottle which they can fill up from the taps on the festival area but it’s important that the bottle is empty when they enter the festival area.

Through the deposit tableware system, guests can rent reusable plates and cups and wine glasses in various sizes which carry the national deposit system logo. The forks, knives and spoons used at the festival are not part of the deposit system but these are compostable and can be disposed of in the correct bin. There are three types of bins in the festival area: food scraps and other compostable waste (for example, compostable forks and plates), returnable bottles and general waste. There are also Sustainability Ambassadors walking around the festival area who can help the guests find the right bin.

Viljandi Folk Music Festival is collaborating once again with Väätsa landfill which will take care of all the compostable waste from the festival and turn it into fertile soil.

In 2019 when the single-use plastic tableware was replaced by compostable ones, the amount of waste created during the festival decreased by half compared to the year before. This year’s innovation should reduce the amount of waste even further. The festival also reuses signage and decorations and plans transport as sustainably as possible.

The long-term aim of the festival is to become a zero-waste event - this means that all the minimal waste created during the festival would be reused. “We know that our guests are environmentally conscious which means that thinking about the environment is a natural and organic part of organising the festival,” said the Head of Sustainability for the festival, Kirsika Meresmaa.

Viljandi Folk Music Festival takes place on July 22-25 in the Viljandi Castle Hills. Musicians from Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Latvia and Georgia will perform at the festival. The programme also includes the heavy artillery of Estonian musicians but also new groups and projects that were put together especially for the festival. The theme of this year’s festival is “In harmony”. This year, only guests who own a pass can access the festival - no single tickets will be sold for individual concerts. Currently, day passes are still available for Thursday and Sunday.

Photo of deposit cups used at the festival included, photographer Rene Lutterus.